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While the rest of the country has moved on, California keeps counting, and Democrats keep winning. Another key race in the Central Valley just flipped parties, expanding the Democratic supermajority in the State Senate yet one more vote past 2/3:

After trailing since Election Day, Democrat Cathleen Galgiani overtook Bill Berryhill by more than 2,100 votes Wednesday night, assuring her of victory in their hotly contested 5th Senate District race.

Thomas Lawson, Galgiani's campaign manager, said the trend is clear and that her victory will make Thanksgiving Day even sweeter.

Berryhill's campaign manager, Duane Dichiara, stopped short of conceding defeat but admitted, "It's a tough row to hoe" now.

This is a big win for several reasons. Galgiani has been a staunch advocate for the California High Speed Rail project in the Central Valley, which will need strong support in the California State Senate in the coming year, when the project will shift from planning to laying track, and given the likelihood that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives will seek to limit funding as they did in the previous congress. In beating her opponent, Bill Berryhill, Galgiani managed to break the hold of the Berryhill family, a prominent Republican family in San Joaquin county politics (his brother Tom is also in the state senate).

This also extends the Democrats recently-won supermajority in the state senate, critical for passing tax increases because of prop 13, as well as for putting initiatives on the ballot without the expense and trouble of gathering signatures. An expanded supermajority also makes it harder for the CA GOP to win back the 34% necessary to block taxes in 2014. Finally, an expanded supermajority makes it that much harder for a single recalcitrant DINO in the state senate to gum up the works, and also makes it easier for good legislation to pass with a simple majority, should several Democrats vote against it.

Finally, this continues the long process of the transformation of the Central Valley from a conservative Republican stronghold to a swing district, and eventually to a Democratic stronghold, and points the way towards future Democratic wins in the valley. Big news all around, and a great victory.

9:54 PM PT: One more thing I just realized: Galgiani's election makes her the eighth ninth openly GLBT politician currently serving in California's state legislature (all Democrats, naturally). So one more win in a generally pro-GLBT election cycle!

Originally posted to wu ming on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 07:58 PM PST.

Also republished by California politics.

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